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FEATURED RELEASES

Friday
Jul312015

DANIEL ROMANO - If I've Only One Time Askin'

"Daniel Romano's fourth long-player If I've Only One Time Askin' is set for release on New West, the follow-up to his acclaimed 2013 album Come Cry With Me released on New West imprint Normaltown Records. His new album sees Daniel continuing to mine the rich seam of country music traditionalism with a contemporary collection of songs echoing the greatness of Williams, Parsons, Jones and Haggard, but ensuring the music is very much his own with a self-proclaimed genre.

'Mosey music is a study in contrasts,' Romano says. 'There's glitz and grit, reveling and wallowing, wretchedness and showmanship. Mosey music's pioneers wore their battered hearts on sequined sleeves.'

The album was recorded in Daniel's hometown of Welland, Ontario, and self-produced. Amongst the many highlights, there's a lovely collaboration with Caitlin Rose on 'Strange Faces.' For those lamenting the bro-country takeover of the genre, there's much to admire and hang your hat on in Daniel's lyricism, arrangements and neotraditional stylings: classic in every sense of the word." - Beat Surrender

Thursday
Jul302015

DUCKTAILS - St. Catherine

"The thing that you quickly learn about Matt Mondanile while having a conversation with him about contemporary indie music: Dude is friends with everybody. Not just with the underground darlings who actually worked with him on the Real Estate guitarist’s fifth album as Ducktails (St. Catherine, out this week) but Ariel Pink, Mac DeMarco, and just about every other prolific, do-everything studio rat likely to pop up on the year-end list of a publication like ours. It could make Mondanile sound like a name-dropper, but he’s sincere and genuine enough that he comes off more as a likeable guy who’s just really excited about how well his buds are doing and how much awesome music they’re making.

That geniality also filters into St. Catherine, an album that approximates the gentle comfort of a Sunday afternoon, while not ignoring that day’s trepidation about the week ahead. At times explicitly autobiographical, it’s one of Mondanile’s most personal albums—the chorus to 'Headbanging in the Mirror,' for example, details the East-to-West Coast relocation that gives him his current sense of fish-out-of-water anxiety. But, as always, he gets by with a little help from said friends, including experimental singer/songwriter Julia Holter, who provides vocals to 'Church,' and electronic composer James Ferraro, who appears on 'Mirror.'" - SPIN

Monday
Jul272015

AMARA TOURÉ - 1973-1980

"Although already brimming with incredible talent, Amara Touré joining Le Star Band de Dakar in 1958 began the band's meteoric rise to the top. The band quickly became Dakar's number one orchestra, and it cemented the reputation of the Miami nightclub as the hottest spot in the country. The place was packed nightly, and Dakar was boiling. 

Amara Touré's Senegalese adventure lasted for ten years when he received an irrefutable offer and in 1968, joined by a few talented Senegalese musicians, headed to Cameroon and immediately formed the Black and White ensemble. Many live gigs later, and it was time for the first songs to be recorded. A total of three singles were produced between 1973 and 1976. These singles, representing the first six songs on this compilation, fully epitomise and distill the essence of what Touré had learned during his career, his Mandingue roots fused with the Senegalese sound that he had mastered: the perfect foundation for the Touré's Cuban interpretations. 

If Touré's intention was to create the most sensual music ever recorded in Africa, he might very well have reached this goal. The musicians on the recording sound like they are playing in a smokey, poorly lit juke joint, where dark rum was sipped ever so slowly, and the pulse of the music took up a life of its own. How many couples have danced, swayed, and melted together to the distinct sound of Amara Touré? Nobody can say for sure..."
- Analog Africa

Friday
Jul242015

VA - Rastafari: The Dreads Enter Babylon 1955-83

"Emerging in Jamaica in the 1930s from a period of political and social upheaval, Rastafarianism was not always as synonymous with reggae music as it would go on to become. With reference to Ethiopiathe seat of Emperor Haile Selassie I since 1930first appearing in Jamaican music on Lord Lebby and the Jamaican Calpysonians' 1955 recording 'Etheopia,' it wouldn’t be until the mid '60s and '70s that the Rastafarian faith would dovetail so heavily with the island's emerging reggae sound.

Telling this story from calypso through to ska and roots reggae, Soul Jazz have pulled together a double compilation charting the music of the Rastafari like never before. Pivoting on figurehead master drummer Count Ossie who was the first to bring the deeply spiritual nyabinghi and burro rhythms to popular music (influencing everyone from The Skatalites to Clement Dodd), the compilation also includes music from Johnny Clarke, The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Ras Michael and The Sons of Negus, Bongo Herman and Roy Ashanti of The Congos, alongside many more." - The Vinyl Factory

Monday
Jul202015

MILES DAVIS - Miles Davis at Newport: 1955-1975 - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4 (4CD)

"The fourth volume in the ongoing Miles Davis live Bootleg Series, Miles Davis at Newport: 1955-1975 is a four-disc anthology that brings together all of the legendary trumpeter's live recordings captured at the storied Newport Jazz Festival. Founded by organizer George Wein in 1954, the Newport Jazz Festival grew into one of the premier music festivals in the world, thanks in no small part to Wein's longstanding association with Davis. With Wein's support and famous dedication to encouraging artistic experimentation, Davis would return to the festival throughout the most creatively vital years of his career. Although he first appeared at the festival in 1955, unbilled, ostensibly as part of an all-star group featuring pianist Thelonious Monk and saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, it was his star-making rendition of "'Round Midnight" (the microphone buried deep in his trumpet to overcome sound-system issues) that landed him a record deal with Columbia and marked his ascent as one of the most innovative and important figures in music history. Miles Davis at Newport details the association between Davis and the festival, each performance serendipitously documenting his ever-morphing sound, from swinging cool jazz in the '50s to aggressive, free jazz-influenced modal bop in the '60s and finally to funky, acid-soaked fusion in the '70s." - Allmusic

Saturday
Jul182015

EZTV - Calling Out

"EZTV's debut album is a little jewel of decades-soaked power pop, turning the key on Byrdsian jangle and harmonies, filling up the tank at Mitch Easter's Drive-In Studio circa 1985 and rolling on until they land in 2015's lack of guitar pop with effectively facile production warmth. It's full of fine, fresh jangly tunes to pop on while driving around town looking for the best root beer float for that date mate in the passenger seat who might not appreciate the effort." - CMJ

Wednesday
Jul152015

LEON BRIDGES - Coming Home

"It certainly looks as though Texan newcomer Leon Bridges was incubated in some major-label laboratory. Retro soul is some of the most profitable material currently being exported, and the 25-year-old seems precision-engineered, having emerged suddenly in just-so trousers, with a voice that echoes Sam Cooke's. The 10 songs on his debut are unabashedly old-school: romantic, easygoing, some fast, some slow, pitched at a market that seems insatiable when it comes to the comfort of music that harks back to a simpler age.

The truth is stranger. Bridges was pushed into a studio by two members of White Denim, a Texan psych-punk band who had begun hoarding vintage analogue gear. Coming Home was recorded virtually live in a studio thrown together for the purpose.

Bridges's voice comes from his own old soul. 'Better Man' finds him striving to be a better man to his baby. (He loves her better than all those 'Jezebels' lurking 'under perfumed sheets.') Perky with brass and syncopated shimmy, 'Smooth Sailin'' makes the case that Bridges might make a worthy mate. 'Shine,' meanwhile, finds him asking for his transgressions to be forgiven (those Jezebels, at a guess). Every one of these three-minute time capsules is operated with joy and ease, Bridges's nimble way with a vocal melody matched by his band's light touch, a little lag on the beat here, a surprise organ melody there." - The Guardian

Tuesday
Jul142015

THEN & NOW: Toronto Nightlife History - The Stories Of 48 Influential Clubs From 1975-2015

"From award-winning veteran music journalist and DJ Denise Benson comes Then & Now: Toronto Nightlife History, a fascinating, intimate look at four decades of social spaces, dance clubs, and live music venues. Through interviews, research, and enthusiastic feedback from the party people who were there, Benson delves deep behind the scenes to reveal the histories of 48 influential nightlife spaces, and the story of a city that has grown alongside its sounds." - Then And Now Toronto

Friday
Jul102015

NAP EYES - Whine Of The Mystic

"It's rare, in these days of glutted media oversaturation, that you encounter a band or a record that instantly distinguishes itself upon first listen as something singularly voiced, truly clarion. But such is the reaction we in Paradise had when, on a serendipitous tip from The Weather Station, we first listened to Nap Eyes, whom we're proud to announce as our most recent signing (in happy collaboration with You've Changed Records in Canada.)

Hailing from Nova Scotia, Nap Eyes is the greatest band you've never heard, and Whine Of The Mystic is their first full-length album, a brilliant small-batch brew of crooked, literate guitar pop refracted through the gray Halifax rain. Recorded live to tape with no overdubs, it's equal parts shambling and sophisticated, with one eye on the dirt and one trained on the starry firmament, inhabiting a skewed world where odes to NASA and the Earth's magnetic field coexist easily with songs about insomnia and drinking too much.

You need this band in your life. Highly recommended if you like The Only Ones/England's Glory, The Modern Lovers, The Clean, The Verlaines, Nikki Sudden/Jacobites, The Go-Betweens, Bedhead, and all things Lou Reed." - Paradise Of Bachelors

Monday
Jul062015

CARL HALL - You Don't Know Nothing About Love: The Loma/Atlantic Recordings 1967-72

"Short of discovering one of his old 45s in a trade store, few were the pathways into the lost legacy of Carl Hall, a four-octave gospel-inspired singer who made a string of glowing turn-of-the-'70s R&B side that simply vanished. Though Hall built a third career in film and on stage—notably appearing in The Wiz and the movie version of Hair—his soul-lifting recordings never hit, and thus remained unissued.

That makes You Don't Know Nothing About Love: The Loma/Atlantic Recordings 1967-72 both a badly needed primer and a well-packaged framing moment for Carl Hall's lost vocal genius.

A winning eye for material from Grammy-winning industry legend Jerry Ragovoy (composer of the Irma Thomas/Rolling Stones gem 'Time Is On My Side' and Janis Joplin's 'Piece of My Heart,' and a producer for Bonnie Raitt, Dionne Warwick and Lorraine Ellison) completed the package. Ragovoy was, in fact, the perfect foil, having contributed to countless classic sessions that blended an overt gospel feel with touches of R&B, opera and Broadway. Yet, each time, their collaborations sunk like a rock.

Eventually, of course, Loma Records—the R&B subsidiary of Warner Bros.—would have simply lost interest if it hadn't already gone under entirely. Carl Hall ended up briefly on Atlantic, and though he broadly diversified his songbook (taking on the Beatles' 'The Long And Winding Road,' 'Change With the Seasons' by Elliot Lurie of Looking Glass fame, and The Jefferson Airplane's 'Need Somebody To Love,' all included here), it was again for naught. Atlantic issued a debut single, but none of the rest.

Listening today to You Don't Know Nothing About Love, we find a singer who is at one with the song. Carl Hall gave each performance a charge, unleashing a voice that simply must be heard to be believed." - Something Else Reviews

Monday
Jun222015

KARIN KROG - Don't Just Sing - An Anthology: 1963-1999

"The work of Karin Krog may be unfamiliar to much of the world, but in her native Norway and Scandinavia at large, she's practically a household name. This says much about the local enthusiasm for post-bop jazz but also about the tyranny of distribution: until 1994, Krog's albums weren't available in the USA or UK, meaning three decades of recordings were waiting to be discovered. In theory, until now, she hasn't had any regularly distributed albums in the US or the UK—this is certainly the first one even marketed/promoted in here and in England. With this anthology of her best recordings from 1963 to 1999—curated with Krog’s own input—we hope to set the record straight." - Light In The Attic

Monday
Jun222015

KAMASI WASHINGTON - The Epic (3CD)

"It is probably impossible to discuss Kamasi Washington's new record—all three impressive hours of it—without copping to at least some awareness of two extra-musical truths. The first of these holds that, as a member of the studio wrecking crew that brought Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly into being, this saxophonist-composer is unusually well-poised to secure the attention of listeners who have previously been uninterested in jazz. (This past spring's celebration of all things TPAB was sufficiently strong that Billboard even published a well-reported piece that detailed exactly how Lamar's album came to feature so many jazz figures, including Washington.)

The second truth is that jazz could use a few more people with Washington's cachet in the wider world—touring with Snoop Dogg, or putting out albums on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint. Admitting this is not tantamount to saying that jazz is in some unhealthy creative state (it isn't), but rather that the music currently faces an uphill struggle in the marketplace (as it often has).

Given all this, it's something of a gobsmacking paradox to discover what a hip-hop-free zone
 The Epic is, and how enamored of jazz's past it turns out to be. This triple-album set is an extravagant love letter to (among other things): soul jazz, John Coltrane (various periods), and 1970s fusion leaders like Miles Davis and Weather Report." - Pitchfork

Saturday
Jun202015

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD - Faithful

"Had these songs been released in late 1971, when they were originally scheduled, these dozen tracks would have been Dusty Springfield's third Atlantic album. Coming on the heels of 1969's successful Dusty In Memphis and 1970's A Brand New Me, the songwriter/producer Jeff Barry-helmed tracks would have made for a pretty great trilogy. But that never happened.

Springfield decamped for ABC Dunhill leaving these songs in the vaults where they were thought to have vanished or even burned in a fire. Rhino released four on their expanded edition of Dusty In Memphis, but the rest stayed hidden away…until now. Reissue label Real Gone found the missing tunes and sequenced them along with an extra single to recreate the missing album, named after the key word in its opening tune 'I'll Be Faithful.'" - American Songwriter 

Friday
Jun192015

VA - Too Slow To Disco Vol. 2

"It took us one year to finally come back with Volume 2 of Too Slow To Disco. This time we dug even deeper into the sundrenched, relaxed and funky, smooth and megalomaniacal west-coast sound of the late '70s/early '80s: from singer/songwriter funk, yacht pop, blue-eyed soul to AOR disco, tracks somewhere between delusions of grandeur and a mountain of soul. Again, there are hall-of-fame-honored acts like Hall & Oates and Michael Nesmith (from the Monkees) placed next to a completely lost troubled genius and recent rediscovery such as Jimmy Gray Hall, who only released three promo 7 inches in his short life." - How Do You Are?

Thursday
Jun182015

ROYAL JESTERS - English Oldies

"Twenty-eight homespun stunners from the Alamo City's scrappiest souleros. The Royal Jesters were the kings of San Antonio's cross-cultural teen scene in the 1960s, soundtracking lovelorn slow dances with their heart-sick harmonies. For the first time, English Oldies gathers the best early doo-wop, R&B, and blazing Latin rock and soul from these Tex-Mex masterminds—a simmering melting pot of diverse regional flavors, best served hot." - Numero Group

Wednesday
Jun172015

ARTHUR RUSSELL - Corn

"It's been seven years since Audika Records (the label created for the sole purpose of releasing Russell's work) last issued an album of his material. In that time, Russell's partner, Tom Lee, teamed up with the label's Steve Knutson to compile this nine-track record. Each song is pulled from Russell's original quarter-inch tape masters that were compiled on three separate test pressings in 1985: El Dinosaur, Indian Ocean, and Untitled. The collection is, unsurprisingly, both experimental and pop, noisy and disco, classical and modern.

Corn spends most of its time catering to quasi-classical electronics, the underground New York niche that earned Russell his first fans back in the '70s. Between his 1982 album 24 ->24 Music and his 1983 disco single 'Tell You Today,' he set aside several solo dance numbers not yet rounded by his perfectionism, many of which are alternate versions of Russell staples. 'See My Brother, He's Jumping Out (Let's Go Swimming #2)' speeds into double-time with celebratory horns, while 'This Is How We Walk On The Moon' expands into a twisted version where thin cello plays like a fiddle. Russell's first posthumous release, 2004's staple Calling Out of Context, contained four songs from these sessions, but unlike those, this new collection boasts sharper, rougher tracks. 'Hiding Your Present From You' is riddled with distorted cello, but angelic keyboard and Mustafa Ahmed's buoyant congas keep the pulse thriving, even with three faux fade endings thrown in. It's the type of work that current innovators like Hot Chip and James Murphy routinely cite as an influence." - Consequence of Sound

Thursday
Jun112015

JESSICA HOPPER: The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic

"Hopper's name should be familiar to anyone who makes a point of following contemporary music criticism—she's a longtime editor at Pitchfork and the editor-in-chief of its hard-copy spinoff, The Pitchfork Review. She's written about Kendrick Lamar for SPIN and music licensing for Buzzfeed. In a previous life, she worked on the other side of the shadowy divide between listeners and artists, as a PR rep for acts like Pedro the Lion. She's been deftly reflecting on music—and having those thoughts published—since she was a teenager. (She's 38 now.) And now she's released The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic.

The book, which spans the past 15 years of Hopper's career, is deliberately uneven. Rather than present a chronological arc, she's organized her work by broad subject areas, ranging from straightforward ('Chicago,' her home base) to entertaining ('Bad Reviews,' which favours thoughtful eviscerations over cheap shots) to political ('Females,' the final part, holds the crux of Hopper's feminist critical philosophy). In each section, relative juvenilia sits alongside recent, 'mature' writing. 'Emo: Where The Girls Aren't,' Hopper's tossed-gauntlet of an essay on misogyny in the Chicago scene for a 2003 issue of Punk Planet, is pages away from her unflinching 2013 interview with reporter Jim DeRogatis about R. Kelly's abhorrent record as a sex offender. A laser-focused 2011 profile of the artist St. Vincent buts up against a poetic, impressionistic review of a record by the Swedish singer-songwriter Frida Hyvonen from 2006." - Sarah Liss, National Post

Monday
Jun082015

NOVELLA - Land

"Novella's formation was the result of an instant spark—guitarist Hollie Warren, guitarist Sophy Hollington, and bassist Suki Sou met through mutual friends in Brighton in 2010, where they quickly realized that they shared a common love for '60s counterculture and bands like Black Sabbath, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Pale Saints. The addition of drummer Iain Laws in 2011 and keyboardist Isabel Spurgeon in 2014 solidified the group into a propulsive engine, capable of welding woozy, cosmic psychedelia to sustained squalls of flanged-out, far-out dream pop. Novella's debut album Land is a controlled blast of mainlined electricity, a tempest of relentless groove and crystalline vocals that is at once the vicious edge and the calm eye of the storm." - Captured Tracks

Saturday
Jun062015

THEE OH SEES - Mutilator Defeated At Last

"Thee Oh Sees have released a new album, and it's called Mutilator Defeated At Last. It is their ninth album (and fourteenth overall, if you count the albums they recorded under different variations of their name), a number that's high enough to project its own self-assuredness, conviction, and the deep stench of some folks who know what they're doing. The opening song is 'Web.' It is very, very good. Breaking it open spills out the language of Thee Oh Sees.

If this first song is your first song to hear from Thee Oh Sees, the 'WOO!' lets you know that you’re invited.

If the 'WOO!' doesn’t say all that needs to be said in the language of invitation, I don't know what will. And you might have to settle for just the 'WOO!'—because the delay on the vocals is mixed pretty high, and it's hard to understand the lyrics. I think something about Saturday. Who cares, we're already in it. We're already on board." - The Talkhouse 

Tuesday
May262015

UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA - Multi-Love

"There are plenty of albums about heartbreak, but not so many about polyamorous relationships in which a third party leaves both you and your wife confused and heartbroken. Ruban Nielson might have tangled his emotions beyond repair during the making of his band's third album, but you can't deny the subject matter is compelling. 'Multi-love has got me on my knee/We were one, then become three,' he sings on the title track, adding: 'It's not that this song's about her/All songs are about her.' The Auckland/Portland band’s multi-love is multi-coloured, too, taking soul music as its template but splashing the canvas with futurist synths and trippy vocal effects." - The Guardian